48" Range Decisions

johnskr2March 11, 2014

Let me apologize for this long-winded post/query upfront! I am in the middle of renovating a kitchen and, just when I thought I had made my appliance decisions, have found myself having to re-choose a 48" range. My cabinets have already been ordered and are being custom-made to accommodate the increased depth of a "pro-style" range (this serves a dual purpose of being the same depth as my non cabinet-depth refrigerator that will be built-in to the same cabinet run). I was set on purchasing an American Range Performer Series until the appliance store salesman emailed me (after I'd signed the contract and written a very large check for the cabinets!) to tell me that the showroom AR model he showed me was not dual fuel as he had touted but all gas and had increased in cost by $600 just two weeks earlier. I now need some insight from anyone who feels they have some worthwhile information that might help me make a choice. Not to provide you with a novel, but here are some of the details that must go into my decision. My house that I'm renovating was to be a long-term (10 years or more) residence with the kitchen being one that fit my cooking and baking style. I love to both cook and bake so I need a range that is good for both. I live an hour outside of any major city so it also needs to be reliable and serviceable. Although I had decided on dual fuel with the AR, I don't have a problem with AG as long as it doesn't hinder baking. Last but not least, since starting the renovation, I find myself unexpectedly engaged to a man who doesn't want to live in this house (or this area) longer than 5 years. So now that I have to re-choose my range, I need to find one that is on the lower end of the cost spectrum but still meets my reliability, cooking, and baking needs. I'm open to most brands but have focused in on DCS (in first place so far), Jenn Air, and KitchenAid, largely due to cost and serviceability but also because they're household names, so to speak, and would be recognizable to anyone considering purchasing the house in 5 years. My biggest hindrance to this is that I cannot visit any showrooms to see/touch/feel the appliances due to time constraints with work, geographic location, wedding planning, etc. So...does anyone have any insight into these brands (or any other for that matter)? And, on a happy note to all of this...I've been told that I can have my range of choice (including my steam oven) in the next house so I'm consoling myself with that thought! Thanks in advance for your help.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

1st Novels are fine but paragraphs are very courteous to people trying to help you out.

There are only two brands that make a difference regarding resale value; Sub-Zero and Wolf.

Most have never heard DCS and serviceability will be no better than AR or any other niche brand in general.

Jenn-Air and Kitchen Aid being part of the portfolio of Whirlpool brands should have more service centers and better stocked warehouses around the country.

JA and KA are about the same as the AR.The only range that is significantly cheaper than AR is the DCS All-Gas. Is ~$1300-$1500 spread over 5 years that big of a deal? I would just get the AR.

But I would look at your top choices and look to see who services them in your area and find out what kind of reputation they have. Ask them about their experience with the brand.

Baking Electric vs Gas

As many have pointed out commercial bakeries use gas ovens, mainly because of the cost of operation.

A really good electric oven is only really necessary if you are a very fussy pastry chef. The AR uses dual convection fans, this should provide at least acceptable heat evenness.

On a typical gas oven you might have problems of evenness if you are trying to bake across an entire rack or on multiple racks. One or two items in the middle of the oven should not be a problem.

No potential buyer is going to pay a premium because you have a JA,KA, or DCS 48" range over an AR 48" range. So get what you want.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 7:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks, deeageaux, for the wealth of information you provided.

I think you misunderstood some of the issues surrounding this purchase decision. First, I never considered or wrote that KA, JA, or DCS was a premium brand and I don’t expect anyone to pay a premium price for their conveyance when we sell the house. The reason I decided to reconsider less expensive brands is that very few people in this area know anything about brands like Wolf or Thermador (let alone Blue Star, LaCanche, or AR); to them, KA and JA are high-end appliances. What I am attempting to do is reduce the money we lose when we sell while enjoying the purchase while I'm in the house.

To answer your question, “is ~$1300-$1500 spread over 5 years that big of a deal?" That’s $1300-1500 that can be used to put fuel in the airplane for weekend trips. So…yes, I’d say that a long weekend in the Bahamas with the money we save is an additional incentive to reduce the initial outlay for a range.

I also realize that DCS is not a household name. I am considering it because the range has many of the qualities that I want, at least on paper, while presenting at a very decent price.

The three main questions I’m trying to answer are,

- How are the quality and reliability of DCS? Better/worse than KA or JA?

- How are the quality and reliability of KA, JA, & DCS vs AR (or other brands in this pricepoint)? Will I spend several thousand dollars on one of these brands only to wish I’d spent a bit more and bought the AR?

- Is Dual Fuel worth the additional expense or is baking with LP gas just as good as electric, especially with the technology we have today? I haven’t had a gas oven since my college days & can no longer remember the pros and cons of using it (they say memory’s the 2nd thing to go!).

I am almost convinced that all gas is the way to go thanks to lots of reading and the good information past in the previous reply. Now I need to answer the two remaining questions related to quality and reliability.

One last thing, my apologies for not using paragraphs. Had I realized that I was able to do so in the 2” x 2.5” box provided for typing a message, I certainly would have done so. I am a technical writer in one aspect of my job and, as such, am particularly fond of grouping sentences together that discuss a particular idea, in the form of a paragraph, and excluding those that aren’t related. Sorry again for any problems you had reading my initial post.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 11:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

1) In the first five years any repairs are almost certainly will be done in the first year therefore under warranty. The only exception is if you use the self clean in the JA and KA very regularly. The difference is likely to come around the 10 year mark. When there is a good chance you will need to replace the integrated circuit boards in the JA/KA.

2) The quality and reliability of the brands are roughly equal. The main differentiator is the cost to repair the electric oven. Replacing an igniter or spark module in a gas oven 15-25 years after new is generally not that expensive. If there is a problem with the hardware in the gas oven like intake manifold the problem presents itself right away, under warranty. Replacing electronics in the electric ovens generally is very expensive.

3) This is a hotly debated topic. The only electric oven, IMO, good enough to even consider paying the premium is Wolf. Like I said previously if baking 1 or 2 items I think any of these gas ovens are more than sufficient. It is if you want to bake 8 loaves of bread at the same time that the question of really good heat evenness becomes an issue. Or baking three racks of pastries. For 99% of people a good gas oven is good enough 99% of the time. I have a 36" Capital Culinarian All Gas range plus a 24" Gaggenau electric wall oven for baking.

I just perused Ebay. If I were you I would get the Bluestar 48" display model linked below.

$5800 plus $400 for delivery.

Awesome 22k btu burners. 10k btu simmer burner goes down to 130 degrees.

Grates you can pop the top and twist to raise the cooktop surface for even lower simmer or remove to place a round bottom wok.

Here is a link that might be useful: NEW OUT OF BOX BLUE STAR BLUESTAR 48

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 4:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you so much for the thorough answers to my questions, deeageaux! That was exactly what I needed to know.

I saw the Bluestar listing & was considering it. The fact that I can't try any of these before purchasing - and have never seen a Bluestar in person - made the idea of purchasing it a bit daunting, though. Recommending that range in your post is heartening. I will look at it again and check on delivery since I live very close to the middle of nowhere!

Thanks again. I really appreciate the time you took to provide me with all of this useful information. Cheers!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 5:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We are actually looking for the third range since 2007. I have a Wolf Df that has failed after 4 1/2 years. From my experience with my revolving appliances, the old idea that appliances show their faults the first year is no longer true. If you do have a problem the first year and it is fixed, the problem may be recurrent and not covered in subsequent years. In years past, an appliance had a problem because a part was bad and you could fix it and it was ok. Now it just seems like the whole design is bad or a part is made cheap and that makes many problems recurrent. Some problems can just show up later. A component that used to last 30 years now fails after 3 or 4 years. We considered BS before we bought the Wolf and drove 250 miles to see it. The fit and finish is more industrial and there were issues with the door and the service at the time. I think that that is better now. Now the main issue for me would be complaints by some that the door is "hot" but of course this is very subjective. We chose Wolf because at the time they were known for reliability and I wanted the DF. HA! As much as I liked my Wolf electric range oven, I have given up on the idea of DF range now but I do have an Electrolux wall oven. We are back to considering BS again. I also considered the AR Performer but the glass and enamel are not covered at all under warranty, not even the first year and with my track record...

The main issue that I have read with LP is if you have to use a conversion kit for a range that is natural gas you have a loss of BTUs. but the BS has a model that comes made for LP so no loss of BTUs.

I have used many different gas and electric ovens over many years and of course you can bake in a gas oven. You can not make an arbitrary statement that one is" better" or more even than the other. There is much more to it. Evenness of heat can be increased to some extent by the convection fan and when you add the third and even fourth element, it helps even more but the mass of the oven with radiant heat also contributes a lot. Convection is not optimal for everything so when you are not using it, you are reliant on the design of the oven. I have had plain conventional ovens gas and electric that heated pretty evenly. I had a convection oven with multiple modes that was a nightmare in that respect, very uneven. The Wolf and Elux function well but have the issues with the interiors. It all boils down to the engineering and when you start adding all the different modes, it is harder to get it right. Wolf and Electrolux do have it right as far as function.

Some considerations about gas and electric ovens. These are just some differences and they may or may not be important to you.

In a gas oven because there is combustion, there is much more ventilation so more heat in the kitchen. It also allows the moisture from the combustion of gas to be vented out of the oven so you have a dry heat but also moisture in your house. This is great for roasting and browning and for baking after the rise is completed, but not as great for the first half of baking breads and other things that have to rise. An electric oven is more of a closed system so will hold the moisture from what is cooking. This allows more time before the exterior of cake/bread sets and allows a longer time to rise. It also allows for increased starch gelatinization making a crispy and glossy crust on bread. It also holds on to added steam that many use in bread baking. Many commercial bakeries do use gas ovens but they have steam injectors if humidity is crucial to what they are baking. If you read some of the baking forums, bread bakers at home have a harder time keeping steam in a gas oven. You can increase "drying" in an electric oven with a convection fan.

Look at the broiler. Some gas ovens have an infrared broiler it can be very narrow. The number of passes in a electric oven can also vary, but they are much wider. We use that wide broiler because I am always doing big trays of things like appetizers. Other people like the infrared broiler because they are doing a couple of steaks more than big trays.

The swing of temperature in the oven is regulated by the thermostat. The normal swing is 25F on either side of the set temperature. There are some that produce a much narrower swing and usually this is with an electric oven. It is often a selling point but does it actually matter? I can't say. One thing I would avoid is the type of oven that will only allow the preheat or fast recovery to come on if there is a differential of 100-150F between the set temp and the actual temp. This is some times disclosed in the handbook but not always.

Some electric ovens have a third and maybe fourth element and dual fans. This is supposed to help create even heat when the oven is full if it works the way it is supposed to. I often cook for 20-35 and sometimes for as many as 60 so I loved that I could pack my 36 inch Wolf and have everything bake evenly. I really miss that.

Check out the size of the ovens on the interior. Check the actual size of the rack. Notice the height of the oven in relation to the racks not the bottom of the oven.

Some electric ovens have computer boards to produce all kinds of effects form combinations of the elements and fans. I do like being able to direct heat from the top for roasting or the bottom for baking. There is a bit of a learning curve with these features and vary brand to brand. Some consider computer boards a liability. My biggest worry was that the electronics in my ovens would go out. It was kind of funny that it was the structure that failed. It just goes to show that the things you worry about aren't the things that actually happen.

One thing I have found helpful is to read about appliances how appliances work from from actual users. It is one thing to look at a list of features and another to say how the appliance actually works. You can also learn a lot from reading the user manual. Have you seen this thread below from some who have the Performer? There are many posts on BlueStar as well. Have a look at some of the videos on youtube. Some are marketing videos but you can get an idea of how the burners work.

Deegeaux ,
I am curious about this statement in your post.

"The only electric oven, IMO, good enough to even consider paying the premium is Wolf.

Since you own the Gag and often recommend it, have you changed your mind about this? Why don't you recommend it now?
How do you recommend Wolf, which you don't own especially with all of the ongoing blue porcelain issues?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 7:48PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Induction + Teppanyaki match?
Hi all, We are beginning our new build. Before we...
Anybody seen/used the new Bosch Benchmark appliances?
I think they are shipping these now. I have largely...
Need advice on combining induction and gas
This is my first post. Please forgive the length or...
Best place to buy appliance parts
I have a GE range (6 yrs of age) for which I need parts....
Bosch Benchmark slide-in induction range
I am pretty committed to going induction with our remodel....
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™